THE Hampshire public can show its support for an Ageas Bowl Ashes Test by taking advantage of cheap ticket prices to see a rare England win tomorrow.
Hampshire’s home ground should be the scene of England’s first Test win since last year’s Ashes series this afternoon, after another dominant day’s play against India ended with the tourists 112-4 – after being set 445 to win.
Having missed out on staging one of next year’s Ashes Tests, Hampshire are determined to get one in five years’ time. “It's no secret I think this ground warrants and deserves an Ashes Test match, and it's a burden being the only ground in this country which has never been awarded an Ashes Test match,” said chairman Rod Bransgrove. “That's a monkey that I want off our back.”
The bidding process will begin later this year and a positive show of support from Hampshire’s cricket fans on the final day will do their cause no harm.
There is every reason to be at The Ageas Bowl tomorrow; the weather forecast is good and families have the opportunity to witness a rare England win - at just £1 for children and £15 for adults – at the most spectator-friendly ground in the country.
The slashed prices will surely mean an improvement on a disappointing fourth-day attendance of just 4,784.
It took the aggregate attendance for this match to 39,718, following crowds of 15,651, 10,652 and 8,631 over the first three days.
Former Hampshire bowler Chris Tremlett, the man of the match when The Ageas Bowl staged its first Test against Sri Lanka three years ago, reflected the views of many when he tweeted: “Shame to see so many empty seats at the Ageas bowl. Starting on Sunday is a shame for the club especially as its [sic] produced a great test.”
Bransgrove believes there is a demand for Test cricket in Hampshire and that it is just the difficult schedule that has made the match a hard-sell.
“I don't think it's the area that's been the struggle here, we've battled against a difficult scheduling issue.
“It would have been a challenge for everybody to be honest. But the ECB are helping financially, they've acknowledged the difficulties of selling a game from Sunday to Wednesday.”
It tarnished England’s performance that it was witnessed by such a small crowd, as Joe Root admitted, after setting up the declaration with a 41-ball 56 before having Shikhar Dhawan caught behind with his part-time off-spin: “You always want to play in front of as big a crowd as possible," he said.
Root helped England to 205-4 declared in his first first-class match at The Ageas Bowl since his unbeaten 222 against Hampshire two years ago.
That was after birthday boy James Anderson, 32 today, set the tone by taking India’s last two first-innings wickets to finish with his best Ageas Bowl figures (5-53) since his maiden first-class five-for (6-23) for Lancashire 12 years ago.